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Russian Officials: Our Presence in Syria is Not Term-limited | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Men walk past damaged shops at a site hit by airstrikes in al-Shaar neighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria November 17, 2016 © Abdalrhman Ismail / Reuters

Moscow- Russian officers continue to assert that their military presence in Syria was “not term-limited” – the reason why Moscow was currently working on developing its Hmeimim military base on the Syrian coast near Latakia.

Meanwhile, the Russians have started upgrading their naval maintenance facility in Syria’s Tartus to a fully-fledged airbase receiving giant naval equipment.

At the political level, Moscow continues to defend “Assad,” by keeping the possibility of joining the U.S.-led International Coalition fighting terrorism in Syria, if the newly elected U.S. President Donald Trump meets Moscow’s conditions.

Meanwhile, Russia insists on the “Aleppo truce,” which is based on emptying the eastern part of the city from its residents.

“We came to Syria for a long term,” Viktor Ozerov, chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security said on Monday. The chairman spoke about the future of the Russian military presence in the Hmeimim airbase and the Tartus naval base.

Ozerov’ comments uncovered that an agreement with Damascus on the Tartus airbase was not yet signed, could be authorized for 49 years.

Ozerov said that Russia’s naval maintenance facility in Syria’s Tartus could be upgraded to a fully-fledged naval base in 1.5-2 years after the signing of the agreement between Moscow and Damascus.

Also, the Hmeimim airbase in Syria will be upgraded to include a second runaway, Ozerov said, adding that the current runaway was starting to “erode” due to the extensive sorties of planes.

At the political level, Moscow does not rule out joining the U.S.-led International coalition fighting terrorism in Syria during the Trump term, but on condition that Washington stops asking to displace the Syrian.

The head of the Upper House committee for international relations Konstantin Kosachev said on Monday that Russia and the U.S. could form a single anti-terrorist coalition in Syria once the American leadership stops intervening in the internal affairs of foreign nations.

“The United States’ strategic interests regarding Syria are about to change, because until now their priority was not in suppressing terrorism, but in displacing the country’s government. Such changes are in line with Donald Trump’s electoral rhetoric,” he said.

Kosachev added: “I see no problems whatsoever that could prevent Russia and the United States from being in the same coalition.”